Palestinians participate in a rally supporting Palestinian inmates on hunger strike since mid-April 2012, outside The International Red Cross offices in the West Bank City of Ramallah, May 10, 2012.(APA images)
Thaer Halahleh has been told he “could die any moment,” by an Israeli prison doctor, as the gravely ill Palestinian who is held without charge or trial by Israel, completed his 73rd day of hunger strike.
Meanwhile, there have been continued solidarity protests in Palestine against international neglect of the estimated 2,000 Palestinian hunger strikers, and new expressions of solidarity.
Halahleh recounted the warning he was given to a lawyer from Addameer who was allowed to visit Halahleh and three other hunger strikers at Ramle prison clinic.
According to an Addameer statement today, Thaer “now weighs 55 kg. He has exceedingly low blood pressure and his temperature is fluctuating at dangerous levels. In addition to vomiting blood, Thaer is also bleeding from his gums and lips.”
Despite his dire physical condition, Halahleh is mentally “still strong” according to Addameer’s lawyer.
Halahleh is still being denied family visits by Israeli authorities, and by keeping him in Ramle prison clinic instead of transferring him to hospital, Israel continues to deny him medically necessary treatment.
Physicians for Human Rights – Israel issued another urgent call on 9 May to Israeli authorities to end such medical malpractices and transfer long-term hunger strikers to hospital.
Warning about long-term hunger strikers
Three other hunger strikers held at Ramle, Mohammad Taj (54 days), Jaafar Azzedine (50 days) and Nidal Shehadeh (24 days) are suffering physically and being kept in “isolated rooms,” according to Addameer.
Addameer also reiterated its urgent concern for the lives of Bilal Diab (73 days), Hassan Safadi (67 days) and Omar Abu Shalal (65 days) whose critical conditions are being “blatantly disregarded by Israel and the prison authorities.”
Protests at ICRC inaction
Families of prisoners and other protestors today blocked the entrance of the International Red Crescent (ICRC) in al-Bireh near Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank today to protest the perceived inaction of the organization. Ma’an News Agency reported:
Family members prevented employees from entering the building, calling on the UN to intervene to protect hunger strikers, a Ma’an correspondent said.
Protesters said they opposed the negative role which the Red Crescent plays in relation to the issue of prisoners and called on international organizations to stop Israeli violations against Palestinian detainees.
Yesterday, protesters blockaded the entrance of the UN offices in Ramallah, prompting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to issue a statement urging Israel to avert “any further deterioration in the condition of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody who are on hunger strike,” and that those held without charge “must be charged and face trial with judicial guarantees, or released without delay.”
70-day Irish hunger striker Lawrence McKeown sends message to Thaer and Bilal
In 1981, Laurence McKeown took part in the Irish Hunger Strike that was led by Bobby Sands. McKeown endured 70 days without food before ending his fast. He sent this video message to Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab.
35 Irish parliamentarians call for immediate action
Meanwhile, 35 Irish legislators and two ministers “including independents and deputies and senators from all political parties and groups in the Dáil [House] and Seanad [Senate] have signed their names to a petition calling for an immediate response to the ongoing mass hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails,” according to a statement posted by Sinn Fein.
The statement said the parliamentarians would attempt to raise the issue of the Palestinian hunger strikes in the Irish parliament today.
Fayyad and EU rep impassive amid pleas from prisoners’ mothers
Palestinian mothers of prisoners confronted Western-backed appointed Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad and an EU representative on 9 May, a video posted on YouTube shows.
In the video two women can be seen appealing passionately for action, as the two officials stand by impassively saying little and offering no assurances of support. At the end, the women and other protestors break out into a chant of “We don’t want bread and don’t want flour, we want the prisoners freed,” and again the officials do not join them.
Full text of Addameer statement
Ramallah, 10 May 2012 - Addameer lawyer Mona Neddaf visited four hunger strikers in Ramleh prison medical clinic today, including Thaer Halahleh, now on his 73rd day of hunger strike. According to Ms. Neddaf, Thaer’s condition continues to deteriorate. The prison doctor has said to Thaer that he could die at any moment. Thaer has lost significant weight, and now weighs 55 kg. He has exceedingly low blood pressure and his temperature is fluctuating at dangerous levels. In addition to vomiting blood, Thaer is also bleeding from his gums and lips. The prison doctor also told him that he now has an infection in part of his body. Thaer is drinking water, but not taking any vitamins or minerals. Though he is very weak, Ms. Neddaf reported that mentally he is still strong. Thaer was supposed to receive a visit from his family today, but the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) cancelled the visit yesterday.
The health of Mohammad Taj, now on his 54th day of hunger strike, is also at a dangerous level. In addition, Jaafar Azzedine, on his 50th day of hunger strike, reported that he had stopped drinking water for a short period but has started to drink again, with minerals and vitamins. Nidal Shehadeh, who began his hunger strike on 17 April as part of the mass hunger strike, was moved back from a public hospital to Ramleh prison two days prior. He is on hunger strike in protest of receiving inadequate medical treatment while in prison.
Ms. Neddaf noted that all the prisoners on hunger strike in Ramleh prison are in isolated rooms. She further reported that they continue to be threatened by the IPS. Even at this stage of hunger strike, they have been told that if they do not stand for the “daily count”, they will not be permitted lawyer visits.
Addameer fears for the lives of Thaer, Bilal Diab, also on his 73rd day of hunger strike, Hassan Safadi, who is now on his 67th day of hunger strike, Omar Abu Shalal, who is now on his 65th day of hunger strike, and all the other prisoners on hunger strike whose critical conditions are being blatantly disregarded by Israel and the prison authorities. Addameer reiterates its call for immediate action on behalf of the hunger strikers.